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Microsoft Pri0

Welcome to Microsoft Pri0: That's Microspeak for top priority, and that's the news and observations you'll find here from Seattle Times technology reporter Matt Day.

May 30, 2007 at 11:05 AM

Gates: Surface to cost less than $1,000 in 3-5 years

Microsoft’s new Surface computer, unveiled today, is getting plenty of ink.

Chairman Bill Gates spoke about it to The Wall Street Journal, the publication hosting a top-flight tech conference this week (see live coverage by Brier Dudley) where the product debuted. In a story today, Gates said the “natural interface” of touch will change computing.

He was confident that the limited deployment of Surface in high-end hotels, casinos and T-Mobile retail stores will expose the concept to “literally millions of people.”

“But the big numbers come when our hardware partners pick it up and build devices for the office and home environments,” Gates told the Journal. The story continued: Gates “expects that in three to five years greater sales volumes will help drive down the cost of the Surface technology, enabling the company to ‘get to price points that are under a thousand dollars for broad usage,’ he says.”

Hard to say what the $1,000 model would look like, but one clue about where Microsoft is going with the technology comes from the blog of Long Zheng. He found what is either meaningless filler on an old version of Microsoft’s Surface Web site, or an indication that a Zune with the same kind of “multi-touch” capabilities is due on Nov. 14 — one year to the day after the launch of the current Zune.

By the way, if you’re wondering why T-Mobile is one of the launch customers for Microsoft Surface, here’s a possible explanation: Two top managers of the Surface Computing group came from T-Mobile USA.

General Manager Pete Thompson came to Microsoft in early 2006. He was previously executive director of marketing and business development at T-Mobile USA, which is based in Bellevue.

Marketing director Mark Bolger moved from T-Mobile to Microsoft in September 2006. He led marketing of smartphones and the HotSpot brand.

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